When Answers Don’t Come

What happens when we pray, and the answers we are seeking don’t seem to come? I’m not sure about you but I have in the past found myself asking three questions:

  • Is God Sovereign?
  • Can I trust Him?
  • How long do I continue asking?

The answer to my first question is yes, the Lord, the Most-High God, is a Sovereign God.  This means He has full supreme power and authority.  He is omniscient (all knowing), and omnipotent (all powerful) apart from any recognition as such.  But because I acknowledge Him as this, as my King, He is my Sovereign.  And it is out of His great love through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross that I am reconciled not only as His subject but also as His child.  He has given me the spirit of adoption and allows me to not only to live in His kingdom, but to also call Him Abba, Father.

One who understands this also recognizes that nothing can touch us that He has not allowed.  This can be both comforting and disturbing at the same time.  Comforting because we know He knows ahead of time what is our circumstance, and we can trust Him.  Disturbing because it can lead us to ask if that means He is also the cause of it?  The answer is no.  We must see and understand there is a difference between causing and allowing.

So then why would He allow it?  Can I trust Him?

When I asked myself that question, two people came to mind.  The first one was the Apostle Paul.  After Paul’s conversion to Christianity, he was beaten, imprisoned, starved, mistreated, robbed, ship wrecked and more, and often multiple times (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28), and yet he did not waste time moaning and complaining of his circumstance.  Why?  Because Paul did not count his physical body as more precious than his relationship and service to His God and King.  He knew that God knew, and he trusted that God, because He was God and because He was loving, could be trusted with his circumstance even when by all outward appearances it looked as if God did not care. Paul knew that He indeed did care.  Even though the bible does not explicitly state what people’s reactions were to Paul’s sufferings, I get the impression that no one back then much questioned God’s sovereignty whenever they felt this world was not treating them fairly.

The Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, is the second person that comes to mind.  Jesus also submitted His body to great pain and torture, not counting His life as more precious than our lives or our souls.  Both men were obedient regardless of the cost.  Both appeared to have wasted, spent, or spilled out, their physical bodies for the glory of God the Father and for His purpose.

Are we acting like we don’t know what it means for God to be God?  When “bad things happen to good people”, things that leave us questioning His goodness, do we really trust Him?  Do we really see Him as Sovereign?

If our answer is yes He is Sovereign and yes we can trust Him, the next question we sometimes find ourselves asking then is:

How long do we keep asking for a thing when it appears we are not getting the answer we expect?  We’ve prayed for the healing of loved ones time and time again.  We’ve prayed for blessings.  We’ve prayed for miracles.  We’ve prayed for our families and cities and for our nation.  But the lines of darkness seem to be pressing in even harder still, and we find ourselves wondering if we should just relinquish it all to God and stop asking.

In the case of Paul, he asked three times if the Lord would remove the “thorn in his flesh”.  The Lord replied “‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  And in the case of our Lord in Matthew’s account of the Garden of Gethsemane, He also asked the Father three times, and each time relinquished to the Father’s will above His own.

Is that to say we ask three times and then we’re done, regardless?  No, that is not what I am saying.  In the case of both our Lord as well as Paul, both had a very intimate relationship (Jesus with His Father and Paul with Jesus).  Both were able to discern when it was appropriate for that particular circumstance, understanding there was a higher purpose and will involved than their own, and that was the purpose and the will of The Sovereign Lord. Both heard the Lord speak on the matter, and that was that.  If you want to hear the Lord speak, you have to be close enough to hear His voice.

For us, I believe it is important to continue asking until we hear and discern otherwise for several reasons:

  • One reason is it helps to build and test our own faith and gives us opportunity to exercise His authority here on earth as it is in Heaven.
  • Another is that through prayer and asking, we allow the Holy Spirit to develop an intimacy between us and the Lord Himself, through that personal relationship.
  • A third is because even though the LORD knows, we ourselves do not. We don’t have the ability apart from Him to discern when to relinquish the battle.  Only He has that insight.
  • A final one is because people are watching, not only here on this earth but in heaven as well (where in Hebrews 12:1 we are told there is a great cloud of witnesses). Those in heaven are cheering us on.  Those here on earth are watching to see how strong is our faith, and they are learning from how we react to our circumstances.  What will we choose to teach them?


Lamentations 3:37 (NLT) Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission?

Psalms 24:1 (NIV) The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it

Isaiah 46:9-11 (NET) Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals eforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ who summons an eagle from the east, from a distant land, one who carries out my plan. Yes, I have decreed, yes, I will bring it to pass; I have formulated a plan, yes, I will carry it out.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

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